Sunday, January 31, 2010

"Why Didn't Someone Tell Me About This Place Before Now?"

Steve and I went to see "A Prairie Home Companion" at Tucson Convention Center Arena last night. Steve has never been a PHC fan, but I have been following the news from Lake Wobegon for over 25 years. Steve didn't realize that so much of the show was music, and he was really impressed with the three bands.

Fifteen minutes before the show went on the air, Garrison Keillor and Andra Suchy, a soprano from North Dakota, walked around the audience and sang three songs. Paul Simon's "Under African Skies" got delighted applause at the line, "Take this child, Lord, from Tucson, Arizona...".

Invoking his reticent and non-demonstrative Lutheran upbringing, Garrison introduced the next song by saying that if we were sitting next to someone we love, we could sing along, and the person we love might overhear, and we wouldn't have to make eye contact or anything. Steve and I sang along to "I Can't Help Falling in Love with You", a song that has been dear to us ever since we heard Arlo Guthrie sing it many years ago.

They finished, sort of inexplicably, with "I Saw Her Standing There", which was fun when we sang the falsetto notes.

Garrison couldn't get over how wonderful Tucson is. He marveled, "A flowering desert, surrounded by magnificent mountains. Who knew such a place existed?" He told the world about Mt Lemmon, El Charro, San Xavier del Bac and the colorful adobe houses. "Why didn't someone tell me about this place before now?" he wondered. I have a feeling, given his impression of our fair city, and the packed house at TCC, he will be back.

Garrison introduced us to a local Latino band call iMAS. they were just terrific. Gillian Welch is part of the Dave Rawlings Machine, and she led the audience in the closing song, "I'll Fly Away". You may remember her rendition of this song with Alison Krauss in "O, Brother Where Art Thou?"

As the happy crowd left the Arena, feeling proud to live in this place that charmed the radio man from Minnesota, we found a lovely winter sunset illuminating the buildings around the TCC Plaza. On the sidewalk people were singing, "I'll Fly Away". I heard a sweet white-haired woman in the ladies room at El Minuto singing that old bluegrass tune, and I joined her in a chorus. What joy.

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